• Amy Toledano

Kissing Rebellion presented by Ovalhouse.

Courtesy of Rosie Powell

What is it? 

Inspired by the 2015 Paris attacks, Kissing Rebellion examines the medicinal versus destructive powers of a kiss, through a seamless fusion of dance, theatre, and song (and makes you really, really want to hug your mum.)  

What’s it all about?

Using touching real life audio recordings from Co-Creators Carolyn Defrin and Abigail Bouchers’ dinner guests as it’s foundation, Kissing Rebellion answers all the important questions about kissing. What kiss would you like to have? What kiss would you like to have again? What kiss stayed with you? What kiss left you behind? 

We open on the cast sat a dinner table, discussing the defining kissing moments in their lives, and the ones they wished they’d had. From there we meander through anthological tales of life’s great kisses, the cast moving gracefully between poignantly static monologues and visceral dance sequences. 

How did it make me feel?

The humorous and deeply charming opening instantly inspires a sense of warmth and intimacy, drawing you in as though the entire audience is sitting around the table. We feel one with the characters, eager to hear their stories. 

What is so remarkable about Kissing Rebellion is the deep feeling of belonging it inspires. By opening up their inquiry into kissing to familial, friendly, queer, and a-sexual love, the creators have developed a glorious little bubble that satisfies the need for emotional expression we so often lack in 21st century London, and reminds us all that it’s okay to be a little soppy sometimes. 

The actors have found new ways to employ movement in their storytelling, somehow visually encapsulating the universal experience of love, and making the audience feel seen, understood, and revered. In the age of physical theatre, it is becoming increasingly difficult to choreograph original and exciting movement, but Kissing Rebellion is fresh, fierce, and a feast for the eyes. It is refreshing and disarming, and celebrates the richness of love in all its forms, from the mundane to the extraordinary. 

Where is it playing?

Kissing Rebellion is hosted by The Ovalhouse in Kennington as part of the their Demolition Party, in which artists can demolish parts of the space before the theatre’s relocation to Brixton. The bare walls and sunken stage add a personal, relaxed element, and allow for a dynamic and visually compelling performance. 

Anything else?

Though the entire cast is outstanding, I feel obliged to give a special mention to Matthew Rawcliffe, who is as charming as he is breathtaking. He loses himself in his dancing, taking the audience with him, and his naturalistic comedy epitomises the human connection that makes Kissing Rebellion so wonderful. Be prepared to be enchanted. 

Kissing Rebellion is playing at Ovalhouse until the 30th November 2019.

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